Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Genealogies of Rel pt. 1

Genealogies of Rel: discipline and reasons of power in xnty and islam
by talal asad 1993

asad is a respected post-colonial anthropologist whose name i've encountered recently throughout newer lit on islm.

1-"anthros who would study, say, muslim beliefs and practices will need some understanding of how "re" has come to be formed as concept and practices in the mod W. for while rel is integral to mod W history, there r dangers in employing it as a normalizing concept when translating islmc trads"

4-theres argument over whether nonwestern cultures are indeed making their own history. some say they adapt capitalism in their own way, and say they are completely making their own histories--but sometiems forces are very strong, u wouldn't say an inmate in a concentration camp is making his own history. Then again, they are not completely passive either

8-the anthros job--fieldwork--"defines priveleged access to the local" *a notes that refers to evans-pritchard 51 that describes the history of anthro from moving from documents as the object of study to ppl b/c docs r fallible
-the idea of "local" is juxtaposed to the scholar's idea that they themselves are universal--revealing power relations
9-some anthros have been criticizing the idea of a "stable and unitary cultures", now esp in G, but in human history as well
10-some say mobility and uprootedness are caused by power

12-Asad asks whose history is being made? This is esp difficult when a non-euro implements a "eurpn project" in a polly independent state

13-the extremes that cultures are completely destroyed or that they simply take up dominant history are "absurd"

-"predefined social relations and lang forms, as well as the body's materiality, shape the person to whom 'normal' desires and choices can b attributed to. This is y ?s about what it is possible for agents to do must also address the process by which 'normal' persons r constituted"

14-"meanings r never simply generated by a cultural logic; they belong variously to conventional projects, occassional interactions , natural events, and so on" (grice 89)

-some r now ?ing 'lib humanist notions of subjectivity and agency"

19-18th ce eurp was when "xn attitudes towards historical time [salvation, expectation] were combined with the newer secular practices [rtl prediction] to give us our mod idea of progress" (koselleck 88)
-and the idea of making history has to b making universal changes--so maintaining 'local' stat quo or following local modesl doesn't qualify--eg iran rev is a mere attempt "to resist the future"
-therefore this means that when anthros (who r eurpns and believe in mody) look at "locals", they cannot see them as writing their own histories--they r non mod, local, tratl

20-in encountering new ppls ('savages') eurpns had to change the story from the Fall (bc it appeared that not all men were equal, equally sinful and redeemed) to a secualr reason for eurpn dominance--mody

23-"aspects of anthrogy's discourse on the nonmod--those addressing "the primitive,' 'the irrational,' 'the mythic,' 'the trad'--have been of central importance to several disciplines. thus, psychoanalysis [freud], theological modsm, and modst lit, among others, have continually turned for support to anthogy in their attempts to probe, accomodate, celbrate or qualify the essence of mody"

-"anthrogy, then, appears to b involved in definitions of the w. while wn projects r transforming the (preliterate, pre capitalist, premod) ppls that ethnographers claim to represent. both processes need to b studied systematically. to understand better the local ppls 'entering' (or 'resisting') mody, anthropology must surely try to deepen its understanding of the w. as something more than a threadbare ideology. to do that will include attempting to grasp its peculiar historicity, the mobile powers that have constructed it structures, projects and desires. i argue that rel in its pos and neg senses, is an essential part of that construction"

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